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About the Author

From bicycle touring to backpacking, watercolour painting to clay modelling, the exploration journal captures my journey through many different interests and travel adventures.

I love to find those out of the way places that whisk you away from the concerns of everyday life. Whether this is by wading through an overgrown river or trying new paint techniques is up to you!

Walking up to Glacier de la Pilatte from La Bérarde

Walking up to Glacier de la Pilatte from La Bérarde
After backpacking for the last few nights and camping at Col de l’Aup Martin and Vignemale we decided to settle down in La Bérarde for a rest day. Of course a rest day doesn’t mean resting, it means hiking to Glacier de la Pilatte, roughly 6 miles up the valley from the village. La Berarde sits at a friendly altitude of 1720m whilst the refuge at Glacier de la Pilatte is a much more unfriendly 2577m.
The valley is beautiful in summer and worth walking just to see the Alpine scenery, even if not planning on going all the way up to the refuge. I would recommend camping at La Berarde and making the most of the local area. As well as La Pilatte there are five or six other adjoining valleys and glaciers to explore. We started the hike early morning at around 9am and made quick process along the gentle valley. The best bit of walking to the glacier is that you start off peering up at the immense peaks with craggy spires and scree slopes as you meander through the valley bottom when suddenly around the next corner the glacier is suddenly glistening before you.
Unfortunately it gets rapidly tougher as you get nearer the glacier. The final climb is 600m of standard steep zig-zagging up the side of the valley. It’s tiresome to look up the mountain and realise that the zig of your current zigzag isn’t that far from the next one, but unfortunately there is no choice but to continue following the path.
Eventually the path flattens out at Refuge Pilatte and the final stop for day walkers. The refuge is a perfect basecamp for mountaineers and climbers looking to tackle Pointe de la Pilatte and the other local peaks.

After enjoying a tasy lunch in the shade of a huge boulder we reluctantly turned our backs on the glacier and started the slightly easier descent back to La Berarde.

The glacier isn’t accessible for day waklers and it is not advised anyway as water melting under the ice can cause ice bridges which collapse when under weight. However if you explore the other valleys its possible to find fields of snow on the mountain-side that haven’t melted, even in the peak of summer.

Walk Information:
Basecamp: La Berarde
Start/End Point: La Berarde
Type: Day walk
Distance: 12.4 miles (6.2 miles ascending)

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